NFL Wire News

Caldwell says Stafford still Lions quarterback


The Sports Xchange

ALLEN PARK, Mich. –A quarterback other than Matthew Stafford threw a pass for the Detroit Lions on Sunday for the first time in 49 games. Head coach Jim Caldwell pulled him out of the game after his third interception, which led to the Cardinals gaining a 35-7 lead in the third quarter of a game the Lions lost, 42-17.

“It’s like a pitcher not having a very good day,” Caldwell said of the decision. “If a pitcher comes out, obviously he’s still the starter.”

Stafford threw three interceptions and finished the game 20 of 32 for 191 yards and one touchdown. He said Caldwell told him at halftime that he’d be pulled if he threw a third pick after throwing two in the first half, leading to his benching after the first second-half drive.

“We had nothing going at that time,” Caldwell said of the decision. “No spark, no explosiveness, no nothing.”

The Lions finished the game with six turnovers, including three in a second quarter the Cardinals won 28-0. They also had nine penalties for 85 yards, stopping progress on multiple promising drives and costing them lots of field position on special teams.

But, after backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky entered to cheers in the third quarter, the quarterback decision remained the topic of discussion Monday, and Caldwell said Stafford isn’t on a short leash.

“He’s never been on a leash,” Caldwell said. “He’s never been on any sort of a leash, and he won’t be in the future.”

Plenty of Lions players accepted blame for the embarrassing loss and said they all need to play better to support their quarterback. The Lions are 0-5 for the first time since their 0-16 season in 2008.

“You can’t play like that,” safety James Ihedigbo said. “Since I’ve been in the NFL, it’s the worst football I’ve seen – let alone being part of it.”


–PASSING OFFENSE: F. The Lions actually had 379 passing yards, but it took them 70 attempts to gain them. Between most of the yards were four interceptions, including three by starter Matthew Stafford. After his third, the Lions pulled him for Dan Orlovksy in the third quarter, who threw one more. Wide receiver Golden Tate lost a fumble, too.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: F. With 57 yards on 18 carries, the Lions continued their trend of finishing with less than 4.0 yards per carry. Running back Zach Zenner led the team with 30 yards on 10 carries, and he became the primary rusher after Ameer Abdullah had fumbling issues, with one on a run and another on a kickoff return. Abdullah had six carries for 17 yards.

–PASS DEFENSE: F. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer picked the Lions apart with ease, finishing 11 of 14 for 161 yards and three touchdowns. The Lions sacked him twice on the first series, but hardly got close again.

–RUN DEFENSE: F. The Lions couldn’t stop the run at all, allowing 187 yards on 25 carries for 7.5 yards per attempt. Cardinals running back Chris Johnson had a 40-yard run among his 11 carries for 103 yards. Rookie back David Johnson had two short touchdowns among his three carries, and Andre Ellington had a 63-yard touchdown run.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: D — The Lions had some decent plays in the return game, but gave up yards with four penalties. Sam Martin’s punt return to the 1-yard line in the second quarter was actually a highlight, but otherwise, there wasn’t anything productive as running back Ameer Abdullah fumbled on his 41-yard kickoff return.

–COACHING: F — Any time a team loses 42-17, the coaches deserve plenty of blame for the players not being prepared. Offensively, the Lions were predictable and conservative again. Defensively, the Lions were in tough spots due to the offensive turnovers, but allowing a five-play, 99-yard touchdown drive showed the problems with the group.

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